Ecclesiastes 9:4 says, "those who are gathered with all the living have HOPE!" Hope might be one of the most key elements of life. People that I come in contact with who have struggled with suicidal thoughts have one thing in common....hopelessness. Oftentimes their circumstances have so piled up on them, coupled with the belief that nothing can or will change, and they are left with a suffocating hopelessness.
Recently, Netflix released a new show called "13 Reasons Why." The show is based off of a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007. The show captures the story of a teenage girl who chooses to end her own life and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explaining why she did it. In a culture that allows for the taking of life before it starts, we should not be surprised as it moves more and more towards romanticizing the taking of life after it begins as well.
To give some credit to the show's producers, there was some motive in the way they tell the story that they hoped would deter suicide in others by showing it's brutal outcomes. The show can also serve a purpose in creating space for tough, yet important discussion, regarding youth culture in America and call for Christian parents to teach their children to engage with their peers and care deeply for others. (Let me say that this can be done without watching the show. This series is a brutal depiction of human depravity and sin. You can simply read articles about the show itself. Hopefully, these articles I'm writing will be helpful as well).
I am writing this article as a call to the Church, God's people, to open their eyes to people around them who may be drowning under life's problems. We are to be people of hope and love. So, how can we as Christians provide 13 Reasons for Hope to those who are hopeless and in despair? I have read through an article to discover what were the 13 reasons that the fictional character, Hannah Baker, chose to end her life. I will share those reasons in general and show how we might convey hope in a meaningful way to others who might be struggling in the same way. Here are the first two reasons for hope.
- A Slandered Reputation: This is a recurring theme in the show as the main character in the show is frequently misunderstood, lied about, and slandered behind her back. I don't know of a single person who enjoys have their name and character torn to pieces. Yet, it is common occurrence, not only amongst youth but adults as well, to have someone torn to shreds by the words and actions of another.
- Where can a victim find hope?: Jesus Christ came into our world and suffered some of the most brutal verbal attacks that anyone has ever endured, even by his closest friends. If you find yourself in a place of having your name and reputation torn apart, turn to Jesus first because he cares for you (1 Peter 2:22-24; 1 Peter 5:6-7)
- What can we do to give hope? Share with this person how Jesus can identify with their pain. Don't ever participate or allow this sort of thing to occur in your presence. (Ephesians 4:29-32). Be a true friend. Help clear up the rumors. Pray and ask God to help clear their name (Psalm 43:1). Christian young people today have to fight the desire to fit in and be accepted because they know they are deeply loved and accepted by Christ. Only then can they be free to be a real friend to others.
- Loss of Close Friendships: Hannah suffers the loss of close friends over very trivial circumstances. For a girl who was already on the outside because of gossip, losing a close friend added to her growing sense of despair.
- Where can a victim find hope?: In the most crucial moments of Jesus' final hours of life on this earth, Jesus lost just about all of his friends. One sold him out for money, another denied their friendship three different times to strangers for fear of being associated with Him, and most of the rest simply abandoned Him in fear. On one side of hope Jesus knows what this feels like and on the other, HE NEVER ABANDONS HIS CHILDREN! (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
- What can we do to give hope? Don't be a fair-weather friend. One of the most important things we can offer to others is just simply sitting with someone in the ashes of their lives. (Proverbs 17:17) A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. The world is desperate for real love, the kind of love that Jesus first loved us with, and He has called us to give the same to others. Can you get past the "what's in it for me mindset" and give your life away to others?
If you, or anyone you know might be suicidal, please go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255